This collection of new writing on contemporary Greek cinema builds and expands on existing work in the field, providing a coherent analysis of films which, despite their international importance, have so far received limited critical attention. The volume maps key trends in Greek cinema since the 1990s within the wider context of production and consumption at both national and international levels. It offers a wide range of critical analyses of documentary and avant-garde filmmaking, art house and popular cinema, and the work of established and new directors as well as deliberations on teaching methodologies and marketing strategies. The book seeks to highlight the continuities, mutual influences and common contexts that inform, shape and inspire filmmaking in Greece today.
10 ‘White Ethnicity’ and the Challenge of Independent Greek Films to Greek Stereotypes in the Global Imaginary (Taso G. Lagos)
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TASO G. LAGOS
10 ‘White Ethnicity’ and the Challenge of Independent Greek Films to Greek Stereotypes in the Global Imaginary
A recent crop of Greek feature films may be disturbing the image of the country as it has existed in the global imaginary for the past several decades.1 This thesis originates from the worldwide dissemination of national stereotypes that emerged from the international success of Zorba the Greek (Michael Cacoyannis, 1964) and Never on Sunday (Jules Dassin, 1960) and the manner in which these stereotypes came to represent Greece in the global imaginary. While these films have fed the powerful tourism and hospitality industry in Greece since the 1960s, today the largest industry in the country by revenues, they also spurred perceptions that mark Greeks as fun-loving, unreflective, charming and sensual. These ‘branding’ elements help to identify Greece within the global marketplace, yet at the same time straightjacket an entire nation and deprive the land and its people of its complexity, dignity, and challenges. These stereotypes may also suffer from racial bias, under the umbrella of ‘white ethnicity.’
I use the term white ethnicity to help explain and deconstruct this branding process, borrowing from the work of Matthew Frye Jacobson and Yiorgos Anagnostou2 who frame immigrant and diasporic experiences ← 261 | 262 → in the United States as racialized acts of discrimination. White ethnicity underscores, in a novel way, the corrosive dangers of stereotypes embodied in ethnic images, and marks racial divisions that...
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